Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sunday Review

Well, another week has gone by and, for me, it was a very busy one. Here in Cornwall, however, it was, at least, dry and bright. As we, the people of the Duchy, go about our business, a new lightness can be seen in out step. After a long, dark, dreary winter unrelieved by either the excitement or the transient beauty of real snow, we are being reminded how delightful it is to be here in 'God's country' when the hedgerows are in full flower, the breezes are warm, and there isn't a cloud in the sky. If any of you city-dwellers are tempted to feel envious, by the way, my excuse for such gloating is this: reminding myself of my good fortune at home is the best comfort I can find when yet another year passes by without any prospect of the long holiday in Italy that David and I so desperately want and need. Neither of us have ever been there. There is so much we want to do and see. Sadly, our circumstances are such that it is impossible for us to get away.

But enough of this whinging. Let's get on with business.  We began on Monday with 'The Uprising' by Kelly Creighton,a poem inspired by the recent protests by young Belfast loyalists who feel, according to the article by The Observer's Henry McDonald, 'let down by the peace process'. Personally, I found both the poem and the news report thought-provoking. I read somewhere recently - and I cannot recollect where - that, more and more, poetry is coming to be seen as a means of registering political disagreement. Now, here at Poetry 24, of course, there is a definite political 'edge' to much of the work published but I am not sure how true this is elsewhere. Indeed, many journals and magazines seem not to care much at all for what they see as 'politicized writing' - although, it seems to me that everything is political in one way or another, whether directly or indirectly. After all, even the attempt to eschew politics is, at bottom, a political act and no lesser practitioner than George Orwell goes out of his way to impress upon us the importance of considering 'The Politics of the English Language'. 

Tuesday took us to Africa with Amy Barry's 'Africa's Sahel' a powerful poem which provoked much comment: it was 'a strong write', 'moving', 'heart-wrenching'; it painted 'a gripping and detailed picture'. (Our thanks go, by the way, to all the commentators. It is great for us and for out poets to get some feedback.) I was especially struck by Amy's use of the phrase 'nearly certain' which spoke to me so very strongly and yet was so brutally concise.

Wednesday's poem was 'The Summer TV Schedule' by Luigi Pagano, another 'political' piece prompted by the bombings in Baghdad and Nasiriya. Opinion on this one appears to have been divided. Where one of our  contributors, Carolyn Cornthwaite found  'a macabre take on what has become an (almost) daily dose of grim  news', another contributor, Thomas Martin saw something that read 'like a Letter to the Editor'. Well, here at Poetry24 we like to encourage a degree of openness to many different approaches to poetry and we are pretty sure, therefore, that our poets don't even try to please all of the people all of the time. 

Thursday saw us back on our travels with my own It's Like That in China. When I wrote this piece, more than anything else, I wanted to celebrate the miracle of the survival of this infant, this tiny scrap of humanity.  I  wouldn't want to - couldn't, anyway - defend the brutal policies and practices of the Chinese Government but, just for a moment, all over the world, the story of this single child, clinging to life, warmed us and heartened us. As I have tried to suggest in the poem, it allowed us to experience some hope.

Friday we missed, I am afraid but we got back on track on Saturday with Quick Bucks (Open to All Traffic 24/7) by Philip Johnson which offers a wry comment on the news that minor traffic offences are to be heard by new courts in England and Wales. Now this may seem to eminently reasonable: quicker and and cheaper, surely? Perhaps so but is it just me or does the poem hint at the possibility of a new kind of 'unequal' justice, that has one reality for 'the man in the street' and quite another for those who are privileged by wealth or political position. Instant justice, secret courts: where, I wonder, will it end?

Well, that's all from me. Have a peaceful and productive week and may the sun continue to shine. 

Abigail Wyatt